Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — the next in line behind Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to lead Democrats in the Senate — pushed back at Republicans who are using a 2007 speech he gave to justify their plan to block any nominee President Obama puts forward to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Schumer said Republicans are taking his speech out of context and that comparing what Schumer said then to the situation now is “apples to oranges.”
“In short, Senator McConnell’s attempt to justify his unprecedented obstruction with my speech is completely misleading and patently false,” Schumer said in a post on Medium Tuesday.
In the speech, which Schumer gave to the left-leaning American Constitution Society, Schumer suggested Democrats didn’t vet Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito thoroughly enough when the two conservative justices went through the nomination process, and Democrats had been “duped” by promises by the justices that they would be fair. He condemned the right-ward direction the court went after they two conservatives joined.
It is in that context, Schumer said Tuesday, that he said Democrats could take a tougher line on President George W. Bush-appointees, but that he still believed — then and now — that every Supreme Court nominee deserved to go through the full process of hearings and vetting before an up-and-down vote on their merits.
“I believe in this case the President will nominate a mainstream candidate who can and should earn bipartisan support,” Schumer said. “But whether Republicans agree or not with my evaluation of whichever candidate the president puts forward, they have a constitutional obligation to hold hearings, conduct a full confirmation process, and vote on the nominee based on his or her merits. That’s what I said then, that’s what I believe now, and that’s what I hope happens in the months ahead.”